Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Grab Bag: You can't defend? You can't win in Boulder.

Straight to the action... Today in the bag, I'm talking the curb-stomping of the Cougs, a new basketball commitment, and the public phase of fundraising.

Click below for the bag:

Buffs throttle Washington State - 

I'll admit, I completely misread this one.  I thought the Cougars would be able to run and gun enough to stay win the Buffs over 40 minutes, but, in reality, they couldn't even make it five.  The CU offense - which had been struggling mightily, and was still without stars Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson - took full advantage of the leaky WSU rim defense, roaring out to their best performance of conference play. Can I re-introduce BuffNation to the idea of the slump buster? Four-game losing streak over; Buffs win in blowout fashion, 90-58.
The Cougars had no answer for the Buffs' offense. From: the BDC
Colorado was simply on fire Saturday evening.  Against a Washington State team that takes the notion of defense as more of a 'guideline' than a commandment, they roared into top gear, scoring seemingly at will.  For the game, CU would shoot 55% from the field, 50% from three, and score almost 1.3 points per possession.  Essentially everyone who saw the court had a great game, and a total of eight Buffs had at least as many points, including Askia Booker, who came off the bench (*sigh*, discipline) to notch 21 on 14 shots.

The best performances, however, were the ones put in by Wes Gordon and Jaron Hopkins.  Wes finished up on a great homestand by chipping in 10/14/5/4/2.  (Just typing that line out makes me giggle.)  He paired particularly well with freshman center Tory Miller (10/7 by himself), helping the team own the paint.  Hopkins, who has put together a string of solid-to-great performances this month, went for 13/6/4, hitting all but one of the five shots he took (making all three from behind the arc).  The 'Game Shooter' was alive and well.  If these two sophomores can continue to blossom, CU could have a late season run in them, should Scott and Johnson ever return from injury.
Wes Gordon just keeps getting better and better.  From: the BDC
I don't want to get too hasty, and start making dramatic pronouncements like 'THE BUFFS ARE BACK,' or anything like that, but it's hard not to digest this result and feel quite satisfied. DaVonte Lacy, who torched CU in Boulder last winter, was held to 12 points on 4-13 shooting, Colorado held the Cougs to 38% shooting (25% from deep), and posted a +16 rebounding margin.  If Thursday's loss to Washington was the exception that proves the #TadBall rule, Saturday's win was the statistical adjustment making up for it.

I guess it's best to take away the following: it's easy to score against terrible defenses.  If you come to Boulder unwilling to put in the effort to make Colorado work for their points, you're asking to get burned.  I still say that Washington State is a decent basketball club, certainly far better than they were a year ago, it's just, allowed to find their rhythm, CU will never lose in the CEC.  You have to make these guys think, make them put in effort on offense.  If you give them easy looks, open drives to the basket, and freed passing lanes, you're only asking for trouble.  That's exactly what WSU did this weekend, and they got thrown back down the mountain with a 32-point loss for their troubles.
He may not look like it, but Tad was quite pleased with the performance against WSU. From: the BDC
Looking ahead, CU has another shot at a few winnable road games as they head to Los Angeles.  I'm still not sure as to the status of either the potent forwards currently on IR, but the Buffs need to earn at least a split if they have any postseason aspirations.  Look for the preview of the USC game Thursday morning.

Tad Boyle continues to look into the future - 

Surprising many on their way home from work, the word leaked out Monday afternoon that Colorado Basketball had earned yet another future commitment.  While the single-scholarship 2015 class remains empty (as opposed to Tyler Dorsey's score lines, which remain very much full), the 2016 class is filling up fast.  Last fall we were all introduced to Deleon Brown, as the Michigander pledged for Coach Boyle's program.  Now, it's time to meet Cameron Satterwhite, who announced his commitment to the Back and Gold on twitter yesterday.

A 6-4 wing from Gilbert, AZ, Satterwhite is still an under-the-radar recruit as a true junior.  He's averaging 18/5/3 this season, and seems to be projecting upwards (up from 11/4 a year ago).  His role is increasing, and is already considered one of the best recruits in the state of Arizona next year.  So far, the offer sheet is light on the red meat, but that doesn't mean his sheet was completely devoid of P5 interest.  What film there is reveals an all around game, with an ability to get to the rim (limited film is what it is, though...).  Certainly, I would expect to see more of him next year, when the recruiting services finally put their attention on him.

So, other than the fact that his name is very Spencer Dinwiddie-ish, why should you, the doubting Buff fan, be excited?  Well, ESPN notes ($) that he's rangy with upside, while lauds hims as "sensational in one-on-one matchups and out in space."  Sounds like a Tad Boyle recruit if ever I've seen one. Oh, and one more thing ($), "I have a 7-foot-6 wingspan. It is just a blessing, it really is."

Is Cameron a splashy recruit right now?  No, but this is what you start to get as programs develop. Coaches are putting prospects on their radar earlier and earlier in their careers, many as early as junior high, and early commits are just the natural product of that process.  Coach Boyle has been burned by waiting til late in a cycle before, so it makes sense that, when he sees a player he wants, he's going to try and get him on board quickly.  I like what I see on the snippets of film (such as they are), and I like the upswing in production.  I wouldn't be surprised if we see those recruiting rankings bump up over the next year and a half, if only because I expect the lad to keep growing.  It's a little nerve-wracking, projecting out multiple years in the future, but, in the end, I trust Tad.

Welcome aboard, Cam!


Welcome aboard, [INSERT NAME HERE]!

Entering the public phase of fundraising - 

Before Saturday's basketball game, Athletic Director Rick George sat down with the media to discuss an important milestone in the funding of the facilities improvements at Folsom Field.  While I walk past the rising structure every day, and the evidence of effort is as plain as day, the real work is far from over - the dang thing still needs to be paid for. The headline numbers are this: to date, CU has raised over $72 million, with an eye to raise another $33 million.  What's changed: it's now onto the public phase of the project, with the final portion to be raised through the Sustainable Excellence Initiative.

This is big news.  CU has usually talked a big game, but rarely has the AD and BuffNation as a whole ponied up the bucks necessary to play in these waters.  In total, this beast will end up costing CU Athletics $243 million over the next 30 years ($150 mil in bonds), and the goal to raise enough dough to privately support over 40% of that final tally is a massive undertaking.  That George has even got this far is a strong statement.
But, as the great Neill Woelk said, it all comes down to one thing: winning.  The football team has to win, period.  Otherwise, all of this - the money, the press conferences, the mishegas - is for naught.

I may share the sentiments of Xavier Johnson here, but I do recognize the fact that football is the bell cow (for better or worse), and anything the basketball program is going to receive, in terms of financial upgrades, will come after football gets their tithe.  So, pass the hat, get this thing funded, and pray to Tad that the wins follow.

Happy Tuesday!

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